Google India Streamlines Play Store Policies For Gamified Loyalty Programs

The revised policy is based on numerous negotiations with startup founders and executives in India and across the world

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California-based technology giant Google has updated its policy guidance on gamified loyalty programs that are based on the financial transactions in the app and offer cash prizes or other real-world value, based on feedback from the developers, globally.


“App developers in India are structuring features and services exclusive to the country. Keeping that in mind, Google is actively clarifying and simplifying the policies encompassing loyalty programs and features,” stated Sameer Samat, vice-president of Android and Google Play, Google, while speaking at TiEcon Delhi-NCR 2021 virtual event.

The tech company has launched a Web resource called ‘How Google Play Works’, which is said to be a storehouse of functional and constructive information and best practices for developers.

“As part of the first policy update of 2021, Google is providing more clarity on policy requirements for loyalty program disclosures and features. According to the updated policy, developers who are employing gamified loyalty programs, from using features such as a spin-the-wheel experience, or a guessing game, or a 1:1 point salvation, will now find further clarity on the policy necessities as they implement these techniques to drive loyalty among our users,” Samat further explained.

Last year, Google's policy of mandating in-app purchases or purchase of apps to be routed through Google Play Billing System and its 30 per cent commission on in-app purchases created quite a stir.

Previously, Suzanne Frey, vice-president of product, android security and privacy, Google, shared that the reworked policy is based on several discussions the technology major has had with startup founders and executives in India and across the world. It also takes into account feedback Google has received from app developers globally.

"App developers in India are actively building uniquely Indian features and services. One example is the use of mini-games, quizzes, and other gamification techniques to delight users and converts them into loyal customers. These experiences are often launched during important festivals and sporting events, and getting it right within the specific time window is critically important," Frey said.

Based on feedback, the tech giant’s web resource will contain India-specific details on programs that local developers can leverage to find success and scale.

"I spent a lot of time deliberating with CEOs and founders in India, who shared constructive feedback. One area where developers felt we could have been clearer was the gamification on loyalty programs," Samat added, "One concrete update coming from our end is that we are clarifying some of the policies with validated inputs from developers globally."

For users, this site helps to demystify key aspects of the platform and explains how user security and protection work on Google Play Store.

"Many developers thought this was a new requirement and many thought that it applied to them when it did not. This has been our policy for over eight years, so we clarified it globally. He reiterated that this only applies for 3 per cent apps and of these 98 per cent are already compliant," Samat concluded while addressing the 30 per cent commission on in-app purchases issue.